An erotic delight. This book is composed of three linked novellas revolving around a trio of San Francisco friends: Lydia, Molly and Cassie. Lydia runs a fashion magazine. When her boy-toy photographer suggests a photo spread at Libri Antiqui, a used book store, Lydia has no idea she'll be so intrigued by the bookshop's owner, Nicholas. Lydia's frosty personality makes her tale the hardest for this reader to warm up to.
Much better is "Discovering Molly," in which the auburn-haired socialite is challenged, intellectually and sexually, by an adventurer-journalist named Harker Trevane. Harker is part Anderson Cooper, part academic/adventurer (think Indiana Jones/Robert Langdon/Daniel Jackson/Alaric Salzman). He also has a BDSM streak, which he pushes Molly to explore with him.
In the final story, Cassie, an English professor studying the three-way relationship between feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, poet/painter William Blake and painter Henry Fuseli, discovers her interest in Olive, Nicolas' assistant at the book shop. Scholarship imitates life as Cassie and Olive open up their new relationship to include Cassie's hippie research partner (and Tantric guru) Adler.
In a neat little footnote, Adler intends to study the relationship between Byron and Shelley. Even before I saw Gothic, I was intrigued by the sexual possibilities of Byron and Shelley, so aptly portrayed by Gabriel Byrne and Julian Sands in that film. I recently wrote a short story, "Hungry Things," that riffed on that relationship.
There are no traditional happily-ever-afters in The Transformation, but each woman enjoys the experience. Rostova acknowledges she based these contemporary tales on the skeletons of the classic fairy tales of the princess and the frog, the princess and the pea and Thumbelina. There are very few fairy tale elements in the resulting trilogy, but much to satisfy the grown-up reader of tales.
I purchased this book at Borders and was not compensated for this review in any way.